Clean Energy Insights

Promoting Sustainable Lifestyles through Food & Solar Energy

5 minute read

Living a “sustainable lifestyle” can often feel much more complicated and conflicting than one might expect. We are fed with constant information about the negative effects of our daily actions: the length of your morning shower, which milk you choose to eat with your cereal, how you get to and from work or school, and on and on. Despite this feeling, the sustainability movement is filled with a community of hope.

In 2023, we formed the UW-Madison RE-volv Solar Ambassador Team out of that hope and have since learned about solar energy and how it can benefit nonprofits in our community. As a part of our work as RE-volv Solar Ambassadors and bringing others into the solar movement, we’ve looked for other sustainability-minded organizations on UW’s campus to partner with.

One such community can be found in the basement of The Crossing, a church on UW-Madison’s campus, over a delicious dinner hosted by Slow Food UW every Monday evening. Slow Food is an international organization focused on providing good, clean, fair food for all. In brief, this means making food that is inherently enjoyable, crafted utilizing ingredients that support a local economy and fair labor practices, and ultimately that is affordable to all. Slow Food UW is made up of several branches and hosts two meals a week, Family Dinner Night on Monday evenings and Café at lunchtime on Wednesdays, as well as other events throughout the semester.

Family Dinner Night: Slow Food and Solar Education

On February 12, 2024, the UW-Madison RE-volv Solar Ambassador Team partnered with Slow Food UW for a collaborative event at their weekly Family Dinner Night, or FDN for short, meal. FDN is put on by a team of directors and interns for about 100 students and community members.

When first walking in to volunteer at Slow Food, you are greeted with the hustle and bustle of many people working in a kitchen. The Slow Food kitchen isn't large by any means, but somehow has the space for 15+ people all working together to get the meal finished by service. And once we got our hands washed and aprons on, there was plenty to do. Even if it was supporting and helping by affirmation: “Yeah, I think you can totally use the food processor to grind cumin.” “Maybe try the small bowl in the large bowl as a makeshift mortar and pestle?” Regardless of the tasks we were assigned, it was easy to feel part of a whole. The atmosphere at Slow Food is overall warm and welcoming - a great place to volunteer on the UW Campus. And hosts a great amount of people who are all community oriented.

Preparation was nearly done by the time most of our members arrived. The next step was plating. That was an all hands on deck event. What seemed to be a slightly chaotic assortment of tasks suddenly became converted to one similar goal: Get x, y, and z and get it on a plate. Get it garnished. Get it ready to serve! 

While some RE-volv Solar Ambassadors helped with the actual prepping and plating, others carried out the plan of getting RE-volv at the event. This was through the use of pamphlets, a handful laid out on each table, readily available for the community to read while enjoying their dinner. This provided a great opportunity for starting conversations about renewable energy at the dinner table. While food and energy can seem like completely different aspects of sustainability, both Slow Food and RE-volv are working to make a sustainable lifestyle more accessible, whether through good food or solar energy.

FDN Recipe: Pozole (Mexican Hominy Stew) V & GF 


  • 5 cups water (for soaking peppers) 
  • 3 guajillo chiles 
  • 2 ancho chillies 
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth 
  • ½ cup finely diced white onion 
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 16 oz shiitake and oyster mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1 (25 oz) can hominy 
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can red kidney beans 
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • Salt, as needed 

Serve/top with: 

  • Thinly sliced radish 
  • Sliced limes 
  • Shredded cabbage 
  • Tortilla chips or strips 
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Diced red onion 
  • Diced avocado 
  • Cheese



  1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. In the meantime, cut the tops off of the peppers and slit them down the sides. Remove and discard the seeds. Transfer the pepper to a large heat-safe bowl and pour the boiling water over the peppers. Soak for 30 minutes. 
  2. In the meantime, prepare the remaining ingredients. In a large pot, add in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Once warmed, add in the onions and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. 
  3. Add in the lived mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes more, or until cooked down and softened. You may need to add 2-3 additional tablespoons of vegetable broth as needed to prevent burning. 
  4. Once the mushrooms have cooked down, add in the oregano, cumin, tomato paste, 2 bay leaves, hominy, and beans. Mix until uniform. Ass in the remaining vegetable roth and mix through. 
  5. Once the peppers have soaked for 30 minutes, transfer them with their soaking liquid to a high speed blender and blend for 1 minute or until smooth. Add ¾ of the red sauce into the soup mixture and mix one more time. 
  6. Bring the soup to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 more minutes. Remove from heat. 
  7. Serve the pozole with the remaining red sauce on the side as well as toppings of choice, such as sliced radish, limes, shredded cabbage, tortilla chips, cilantro, red onion, and avocado. Add more red sauce to taste. Enjoy! 

by the UW-Madison Solar Ambassador Team


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